The Unchanging Sea

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.47.19 AMI have been looking closely these days at the personal life and filmography of D. W. Griffith – and I’ve come up with some book-worthy ideas (to be revealed at a later date when I iron a few things out). Today I want to highlight Griffith’s culminating effort of his first California Expedition with Biograph in 1910: The Unchanging Sea starring Mary Pickford. Analysis aside for now, I am taken by the scenery. Griffith shot this entire film – all thirteen or so minutes of it – on location in Santa Monica. A century ago this was not the sprawling beach community it is today. But with a little imagination you can almost see the buildings, the pier, the traffic, the crowds…

Okay maybe not but but I will say this: the hillside and beach haven’t changed much at all. Enjoy the film – inspired by Charles Kingley’s poem: The Three Fishers.

With compliments,

The Americanist Independent

Under the Weather?

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 12.22.31 PMGlum? Not yourself? Wheezy? Achy? Fatigued? Vomiting blood?

Perhaps you are suffering from one of these ailments. I came across this very helpful list on Geri Walton’s blog, History of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and she has kindly allowed me to repost it here.  It seems that modern medicine is not quite as abysmal as it once was, but I will say this: physicians from centuries ago had a much more creative flair when it came to naming maladies.

Ablepsy = Blindness
Abortus = Miscarriage
Ague = Malarial Fever
American Plague = Yellow Fever
Anasarca = Edema
Air between the pleura = Pneumothorax
Angina Maligna = See Putrid Sore Throat
Aneurismus = Aneurism
Aphtha or Aphthae = Thrush
Apoplectic Fit, Apoplexia, Apoplexy = Stroke
Asphycsia/Asphicsia = Cyanosis and lack of oxygen

Bad Blood = Syphilis
Bad smells or poisonous vapors = Miasma
Bilious Fever = Hepatitis, Malaria, Typhoid, or elevated temperature and bile emesis
Biliousness = Jaundice caused by Liver Disease
Black Death = Bubonic Plague
Black Fever = Visceral Leishmaniasis
Black Plague = Bubonic Plague
Black Vomit = Yellow Fever
Blackwater Fever = Complication of Malaria where red blood cells burst in the bloodstream and release hemoglobin into blood vessels and urine that frequently leads to kidney failure.
Blood Poisoning = Sepsis
Bloody Flux = Dysentery
Bloody Sweat = Hematidrosis
Bloody Urine = Hematuria or Haematuria
Blue Disease = Cyanosis
Bone-ache = Syphilis or Venereal Disease
Bone-ague = Syphilis or Venereal Disease
Bone Shave = Sciatica
Bowel Complaints = Thrush
Brain Fever = Encephalitis
Breakbone Fever = Dengue Fever
Bright’s Disease = Acute or Chronic Nephritis
Bronze John = Yellow Fever

Cachexy = Malnutrition
Cafarhus Epidemicus = Influenza
Camp Fever = Typhus
Canine Madness = Rabies
Catalepsy = Seizures or Trances
Catarrh or Catarrhal = Inflammation of the mucous membranes, a cold, or bronchitis
Catarrhus Epidemicus = Influenza
Catarrhus Vesicae = Catarrh of the bladder
Cerebritis = Lead Poisoning or Inflammation of Cerebrum
Childbed Fever = Puerperal Fever
Chin Cough – Pertussis or Whooping Cough
Chlorosis = Iron Deficiency Anemia
Cholera Biliosa = Cholera
Cholera Infantum = Cholera
Cholelithiasis = Gall Stones
Chylous Urine = Chyluria
Cold Plague = Ague characterized by contortions, convulsions, and dancing
Consumption = Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Congestive Chills = Malaria
Congestive Fever = Malaria
Colica = Colic
Coryza = Bronchitis
Cramp = Hysteria
Cramp Colic = Appendicitis
Croup = Diphtheria, Strep Throat, or spasmodic laryngitis associated with a cough and breath difficulties
Crural Phlebitis = Phlegmasia Dolens
Cyanosis = Dark skin color from lack of oxygen in blood
Cynanche Maligna = see Putrid Sore Throat
Cynanche Parotidea = Mumps
Cynanche Tonsillaris = Quinsy
Cynanche Trachealis = Croup

Day Fever = a fever lasting one day
Demence = Dementia
Dentition = Teething
Dock Fever = Yellow Fever
Dropsy = Accumulation of abnormally large amounts of fluid resulting in swelling or Edema
Dropsy on the brain = Hydrocephalus
Dropsy of the pericardium = Hydropericardium
Dropsy of the peritoneum = Ascites
Dropsy of the pleura = Hydrothorax
Drunkard’s Liver = Cirrhosis
Dry Bellyache = Lead poisoning
Dyspepsia = Indigestion, heartburn, or heart attack symptoms

Enteric Fever = Typhoid Fever
Emesis = Vomiting
Emphysema = Asthma
English Sweate or English Sweating Sickness = Sweating Sickness
Epilepsia = Epilepsy
Epitaxis = Nosebleed
Exanthemata = Exanthem

Falland-Evyl = Epilepsy
Falling Sickness = Epilepsy
Fainting = Syncope
Fatty Degeneration = Steatosis
Fit = Epilepsy
Febris Biliosa = Bilious Fever
Febris Typhoides = Typhus
Flooding = Bleeding
Flox = Thrush
Flux = Dysentery
Frox = Thrush
Frost = Thrush
French Pox = Syphilis

Glandular Fever = Mononucleosis
Grandular Disease = Acute or Chronic Nephritis
Great Pox = Syphilis
Green Fever or Green Sickness = Anemia
Grinder’s Asthma = Silicosis
Grocer’s Itch = Dermatitis caused by mites
Guinea Worm Disease = Drancunculiasis

Hallucinations due to alcoholism = Delirium Tremens
Hemiplegia = Paralysis
Haemorhagia = Bleeding
Hives = Chickenpox or Smallpox
Hip Gout = Osteomylitis
Horrors = Delirium Tremens
Hydatids = Echinococcosis
Hydropericardium = Collection of fluid around the heart resulting in constriction of the heart
Hydrophobia = Rabies
Hysteria Fit = Hysteria

Icterus = Jaundice
Idem with Tubercle = Meningitis
Idiotismus = Idiocy
Iliac Passion (blockage of the small and/or large intestine) = Ileus
Indigestion = Dyspepsia
Infantile Paralysis = Polio
Inflammation of the air tubes = Bronchitis
Inflammation of the ear = Otitis
Inflammation of the eye = Opthalmia
Inflammation of the internal membrane of the bowels = Enteritis
Inflammation of the internal membrane of the heart = Endocarditis
Inflammation of the internal membrane of the stomach = Gastritis
Inflammation of the joints = Arthritis
Inflammation of the larynx = Laryngitis
Inflammation of the liver = Hepatitis
Inflammation of the lungs = Pneumonia
Inflammation of the mucous membrane = Catarrh
Inflammation of the pericardium = Pericarditis
Inflammation of the periosteum = Periostitis
Inflammation of the testis = Orchitis
Inflammation of the pleura = Pleuritis
Inflammation of the spinal marrow = Myelitis
Inflammation of the veins = Phlebitis
Introversion of the bowels = Intussusception
Irtis = Opthalmia
Ischuria Urethralis = Stricture of the urethra or stoppage of the urine

Jail Fever = Typhus

King’s Evil = Scrofula or Tuberculous Cervical Lymphadenitis

Lagrippe – Influenza
Leiboma = Watery swelling of the eyelids
Lepra = Leprosy
Locked Jaw = Tetanus
Looseness = Diarrhea
Low Fever = Typhus
Lues Venera = Syphilis or Venereal Disease
Lung Fever = Pneumonia

Madness = Insanity
Malignant Sore Throat = Diphtheria
Membranous Croup – Diphtheria
Mesenteric Disease = Tuberculosis
Metritis = Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Metroperitonitis = Peritonitis
Miasmus = Poisonous vapors in the air
Milk Leg = Phlegmasia Alba Dolens
Miner’s Phthisis = Silicosis
Mismenstruation = Menstruation disorder or irregularity
Monomania = Melancholy
Morbus Pancreaticus = Diseases of the pancreas
Mormal = Gangrene

Nephrosis = Edema but is now used to described kidney degeneration
Nervous Prostration = Physical and mental exhaustion
Nutmeg Liver = Cirrhosis

Obstipation = Constipation
Ophthalmitis = Ophthalmia
Ophthalmia Purulenta = Ophthalmia

Palsy = Paralysis
Paralytic Fit = Paralysis
Paramenia = Menstruation disorder or irregularity
Paraplegia = Paralysis
Paronychia = Whitlow
Partus = Childbirth
Paroxysm = Convulsion
Perimetritis = Peritonitis
Pernicious Fever = Malaria
Pestis = Plague
Petechial Fever = Typhus
Phlegmasia Alba Dolens = A variety of diseases related to Deep Vein Thrombosis
Phrenitis = Encephalitis
Phthisis = Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Piles = Hemorrhoids
Pleuritis = Pleurisy
Podagra = Gout
Poliomyelitis = Polio
Potter’s Asthma =  Inflammation of the lungs similar to Silicosis.
Potter’s Rot = Silicosis
Puking Fever = Milk Sickness
Purples = Purpura
Purging = Diarrhea
Putrid Fever = Diphtheria
Putrid Sore Throat = Ulceration of an acute form that attacked the tonsils, see Quinsy
Pyrosis = Heartburn

Quinsy = Tonsillitis or Peritonsillar Abscess

Rachitis – Rickets
Remittent Fever = Malaria
Rheumatism = Sciatica
Rose Cold = Hay Fever
Rosalia = Scarlatina
Rubeola = German Measles
Rupture = Hernia

Scarlatina = Scarlet Fever
Scarlet Rash = Roseola
Scorbutus = Scurvy
Scrivener’s Palsy = Writer’s Cramp
Screws = Rheumatism
Senectus = Old Age
Shakes = Delirium Tremens
Skin Blisters = Shingles
Ship Fever = Typhus
Sloes = Milk sickness
Sore Throat Distemper = Diphtheria or Quinsy
Spasms = Hysteria
Spotted Fever = Typhus or Meningitis
St. Anthony’s Fire = Erysipelas and also for any skin that was bright red in appearance
Stranguria or Stranguary = Kidney Stones
St. Vitus’s Dance = Chorea
Sudor Anglicus = Sweating Sickness
Sugar in the liver = Diabetes
Swamp Sickness = Malaria, Typhoid, or Encephalitis
Swine Pox = Chickenpox or Smallpox

Tabes Mesenterica = Tuberculosis
Taenia = Tape Worm
Tic Douloureux = Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trismus = Tetanus
Turn of Life = Menstruation disorder or irregularity
Tussis Convulsiva = Whooping Cough
Typhus Icterodes = Yellow Fever

Ulcerated Sore Throat = Putrid Sore Throat
Ulcus = Ulcer
Uleus = Ulceration of the stomach
Under Childbed = Puerperal Fever
Under Disease = Salivation

Varicella = Chickenpox or Hives
Variola = Smallpox
Vermes = Worms
Vesicae = Disease of the kidneys or bladder
Viper’s Dance = Chorea
Vomiting of blood = Hematemesis

Wasting Away = Atrophy
Water Brash = Heartburn Pyrosis
Water on the Brain = Hydrocephalus
Water Pox = Chickenpox or Smallpox
White Mouth = Thrush
White Leg = Phlegmasia Alba Dolens
White Swelling = Scrofula, also known as Tuberculous Cervical Lymphadenitis
Winter Fever = Pneumonia
Womb Fever = Infection of the uterus

Yellowjacket = Yellow Fever

With compliments,


The Americanist Independent

Just a Reminder…

Picture 3Immigration requires a certain daring and initiative.

From where I sit, these are virtues.

Imagine our nation awash with the virtuous.

And then there’s this:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

So let’s all relax a little.

With compliments – and happy Thanksgiving (from the descendent of an immigrant).


The Americanist Independent

The Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert



You have all by now surely seen the British grocery chain Sainsbury’s exceedingly well-done Christmas advert depicting the famous 1914 Christmas truce and football match – where German and British soldiers put aside their weapons and come out of their trenches for a brief moment of camaraderie.  As one who writes about soldiers,  memory, and reconciliation I found this commercial very interesting. Understanding that Christmas is for sharing, these men show no spirit of enmity. Rather, they enjoy a celebration of humanity and selflessness in the midst of chaos while recognizing, as the ad implies (with the distant sound of artillery), that they will soon have to return to hostilities.

What are your thoughts?

With compliments,


The Americanist Independent

Gary W. Gallagher and the Battlefield as a Classroom

In this brief video, my colleague and mentor, Gary W. Gallagher, discusses the importance of the battlefield as a classroom. I have toured many such battlefields with Gary and can attest to the benefits of teaching on the very spots where individuals made history. The Civil War Trust, an organization of many virtues, is engaged not only in battlefield preservation, but organizes student “field trips” with education in mind. You can donate to the CWT Field Trip fund HERE.

With compliments,

The Americanist Independent